The number of individuals who’ve turned out to be instant multimillionaires having struck riches in Powerball lottery has been increasing. The largest winning ticket thus far is the earthshaking $1.586 billion won in 2016.
But out of the winners rewarded over the past few years, no story is sweeter than that of the eight humble meat packers from Lincoln, Nebraska. The syndicate working at the ConAgra meatpacking plant defied all odds and became instant millionaires after winning the then-record jackpot!
It isn’t actually the amount won that drew curious looks, but the caliber of people who successfully cracked the winning combo. Despite the likelihood of getting the winning numbers (15, 17, 43, 44 and 48, plus the Powerball number of 29) being 1 in 146 million, the syndicate beat the odds.
The eight, a lady and seven gentlemen, were all drawn from the same modest category and would have easily passed as an ordinary group. But three of them actually comprised of immigrants drawn from Congo and Vietnam and had fled to the US, in pursuit of the American dream.
World's Biggest Syndicate Win
On the fateful morning of 18 February 2006, the clique went to work, pretty much like any other day. They would later pool their money, as it had become common, and later buy a Powerball ticket at the nearby convenience store.
Yet, unbeknownst to them, the $40 they had collected that day was their ticket to financial freedom. The humble, meatpacking Nebraskans won the then-largest amount in the history of the lottery - $365 million. The eight went home with over $15.5 million after taxes, having opted to get the entire amount in a single payment.
For Eric Zornes, a 40-year-old worker and Mike Terpstra, a 47-year-old supervisor, lady luck had finally smiled on them. But none among the syndicate was happier than 56-year-old Quang Dao, a man who had immigrated to the US from Vietnam in 1988.
“This is [a] great country!” He said.
Alain Maboussou, a 26-year-old Congolese immigrant was equally excited, especially because the win was going to open a host of avenues of success and a better future for him. Maboussou, who had fled to the US in 1999 to escape the civil unrest in his native Congo, admitted that the win was an assurance that his 3-month-old daughter’s life was going to change for the better.
“She is gon’ be happy for the rest of her life,” he said amid the excitement.
Unbelievably, the amount was so huge for these Regular Joes that some had to quit working at the facility and instead enjoy their luck. Maboussou left work and instead opted to enroll for a bachelor’s in business administration. Zornes and another winner also decided that their working ways were done and quit the factory.
Terpstra, however, couldn’t figure out how he was going to spend his share. Being a single man with no wife and kids, buying a plane or even an exotic island wasn’t on his mind.
Other members of the 8-team syndicate, however, had their individual plans. They were Chasity Rutjens, a 29-year-old; Robert Stewart, a 30-year-old; Dung Tran, a 34-year-old and David Gehle, a 53-year-old.
The Chosen Ones!
Pooling the money used to buy Powerball lottery ticket had become common among them, although participation was voluntary. And on this day, the eight never knew that their contribution of five bucks each was going to unlock the largest jackpot amount then.
All they could hope for, however, is that none among their colleagues who hadn’t participated would harbor ill feelings towards them. Meanwhile, interested individuals can take advantage of the tickets sold in the entire 28 states across the country and participate, or else simply play online with Lottoland!